Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

Historic areas of Abu Dhabi and an island are renamed to promote heritage

Two areas within Abu Dhabi city will be merged and named after Sheikh Zayed's horse

Maqta Bridge helped to connect the emirate when it opened in 1968. Photos by Victor Besa / The National
Maqta Bridge helped to connect the emirate when it opened in 1968. Photos by Victor Besa / The National

Two popular areas in Abu Dhabi have been merged and renamed as part of efforts to promote local heritage across the emirate.

Al Maqta and Bawabat Abu Dhabi, two areas separated from the main island by a body of water will be henceforth known as Rabdan.

Rabdan was the name of Founding Father Sheikh Zayed's horse and is the name one of President Sheikh Khalifa's horses. It was descended from the thoroughbred Arabian horses owned by the Al Nahyan dynasty for hundreds of years, officials said.

The name was changed to "embody the importance of heritage in naming cities and areas across the emirate."

Al Maqta, meaning section or passage, is a historically significant area of Abu Dhabi. It was separated from the mainland by the sea, it providing a natural fortress, but was also the site of a fort; Al Maqa Tower. Prior to the construction of Al Maqta bridge in 1968, the narrow waterway had to be crossed by car and only during low-tide. The tower guarded the crossing.

The bridge became the doorway to the remaining emirates.

This aerial shot of Al Maqta Bridge, Abu Dhabi, was taken by Alain Saint-Hilaire in 1975. The French photographer won an Abu Dhabi Award in 2011 for his portrayal of the emirate’s development over several years Alain Saint-Hilaire 
This aerial shot of Al Maqta Bridge, Abu Dhabi, was taken by Alain Saint-Hilaire in 1975. The French photographer won an Abu Dhabi Award in 2011 for his portrayal of the emirate’s development over several years Alain Saint-Hilaire 

Bawabat Abu Dhabi, which translates to the doorway to Abu Dhabi, lies just opposite Al Maqta. It connects to the city's mainland via Mussaffah bridge, which was built in the late 1970s.

On Wednesday, the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City said the two areas would be merged into one and named Rabdan. The authority said the name "represents strength, courage and fearlessness, and reflects the UAE's interest in thoroughbreds."

Ras Ghorab Island was also renamed on Wednesday, following orders from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. It was renamed Al Aliah, which means "the high one". It also means the upper part of a spear or sword and was chosen to describe the waters of the sea surrounding the island, which is located just off Saadiyat.

Last week, Abu Dhabi Municipality announced that Al Dhabiya, an area along the West coast of the emirate, between Al Ruwais and Mussaffah, would be renamed Al Nouf to highlight the historical importance of the area.

The decision was made to “ingrain local heritage in the names of regions and cities”.

Updated: July 8, 2020 04:38 PM

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